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The Devil Baby of Hull House


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#1 Vampchick21

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 10:16 PM

The Devil Baby of Chicago’s Hull House.


In 1889, in Chicago’s Near West Side, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded the Hull House, which became a world famous settlement house for the poor immigrants of the area, a densely populated urban neighborhood peopled by Italian, Irish, German, Greek, Bohemian, and Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants.

The Hull-House residents provided kindergarten and day care facilities for the children of working mothers; an employment bureau; an art gallery; libraries; English and citizenship classes; and theater, music and art classes. As the complex expanded to include thirteen buildings, Hull-House supported more clubs and activities such as a Labor Museum, the Jane Club for single working girls, meeting places for trade union groups, and a wide array of cultural events.

In the early 20th century (some accounts give the year of 1913, others no specific year), a rumour began to spread through the Near West Side that a hideously deformed infant had been left on the doorstep of Hull House. This poor infant, so it was sworn, was the son of the Devil Himself! He had horns, a tail, pointed ears, cloven feet, scaly skin, he could walk, talk and fly about within moments of his birth! People came from all over, to glimpse this horror, swamping Hull House with requests and demands to see the child of the Devil.

There are several stories about just how the Devil Baby came to be, and the tale depended on which ethnic group was telling it. According to the Catholic Italians and Irish, a girl married an Atheist. When she was pregnant, she hung a painting of the Virgin Mary, and her husband tore it down, swearing he’d rather have the Devil for a child than a religious painting in his house. According to the Jewish residents of the area, the Devil Baby was the result of a woman who lied to the Rabbi and claimed her second child as her first born, not mentioning an earlier child born out of wedlock. Her next child was the infamous Devil Baby.

And there are several other stories about the Devil Baby of Hull House.

Jane Addams tried fruitlessly to convince people that there was no Devil Baby. Some folks simply thought that ignorant immigrants misunderstood a common birth deformity as a mark of the Devil. And to this day, no one knows exactly if there ever was a Devil Baby at Hull House.

So what occured here? Mass Hysteria? A misunderstanding of a deformity? A legend started by older women of these immigrant groups to teach the younger women, becoming too Americanized, a lesson in morality?

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#2 MoonChild

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 02:55 AM

Would we ever know? But whatever happened to this kid?
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#3 mellilotflower

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 07:31 AM

This sounds like it could have started from a chinese whispers sort of effect. With such a large mix of some of the lowest class of people when prejudices were high, people were mixing uncomfortably and jobs were becoming scarce such a large centre for workers is likely to be given some kind of bad name by more than just one group of people.
From what you've said it sounds like a lot of middle class conservative types in particular would have found something wrong with the complex. Not only was it founded by women, but it also gave meeting room to trades unions and working womes groups.
It's easy to imagine someone saying that Hull house is the home of the devil- or that the devil's children live there. Add to that gossip and the tendancy of people to exagerate and villify as much as possible and it's easy to see how a rumour that a devil child was living there.

The whole thing sounds rather fascinating actually- like a really good window into life during that time. Got any links?

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#4 DukeofBoogie

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 07:49 AM

I always loved this legend. I don't know why but I'm intriuged by the child of the Devil stories. I'm also fond of the Jersey Devil legend.

Here's Hull Houses official web site. of course there is nothing about the Devil Baby
http://www.hullhouse.org/

here's one from the travel channel

http://travel.discov.../hullhouse.html

Edited by DukeofBoogie, 06 November 2005 - 07:50 AM.

http://www.facebook....59567008?v=wallhttp://www.cdbaby.co...eblackriverboyshttp://www.zoarcivilwar.com/In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays.....Spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! The shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into thier soles.-Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


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#5 Vampchick21

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 10:34 AM

Here's a few more links (thanks Boogie). Melliot, you also have to remember that this is a very famous legend here in North America, and Hull House wasn't as looked down upon as it may seem. Jane Addams was inspired by similar places in London, England.

The legend was not from the middle class or upper class, but from the actual immigrants in the neighbourhood. It started with them, flourish with them. The rest of the city learned it from them. I really don't envision educated middle and upper middle class people coming up with something like this at that time.

From Ghosts of the Prairie
http://www.prairieghosts.com/hull.html

Hull House Museum (nothing about the Devil Baby, but a history of the area the house operated in)
http://wall.aa.uic.e...t/HullHouse.asp

You can also just type in Hull House and/or Hull House Devil Baby in any search engine to get hundreds and hundreds of links. Like I said, not exactly an obscure local legend.

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#6 Vampchick21

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 10:37 AM

Would we ever know? But whatever happened to this kid?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


No one even knows if there actually was a child, devil spawn or deformed. Which is part of the mystery of this legend.

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#7 Tainted

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 05:23 AM

This kind of reminds me of the myth that originates from ohio about a race of big headed midgets that terrorize and eat anybody thats unlucky enough to encounter them.I suspect all of these stories are true and that these creatures are actually either failed biological weapons designed and thrown away by the military or they are experiments that have escaped a secret military laboratory somewhere.
Or it could be possible that I play entirely too much Resident Evil.
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#8 Vampchick21

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 10:21 AM

There was an entire, very interesting discussion on the Melonheads of Ohio about a year ago. It can be found here

http://www.ghostvill...4&hl=melonheads

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#9 kats_god

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 12:36 PM

Thats just freaky.
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#10 Frogbat

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Posted 12 May 2006 - 03:15 AM

People still report seeing the "creature" looking out of the leftmost attic window. Ectoplasm and ghost monks also have been photographed on the stairs here.
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#11 Sweny

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 02:30 PM

i know this is an old thread...

During a Ghost Tour at hull house my fiance snapped a picture. It was viewd by many people there, and a few other photo experts, it may have the image of the Devil baby in one of the panes of glass

E-mail me for the image since i have no idea how to insert it here.

#12 leonie

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 03:28 PM

Make an account on photobucket then upload the picture on to there and copy and paste the img post on here.

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#13 Electra Rain

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:15 PM

I'm also fond of the Jersey Devil legend.


LOL.... The Jersey Devil is what this story reminded me of too. Both, are really great stories, thanks for sharing.

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#14 Laurie Ann

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 10:33 AM

~I's LOVE to see the picture!!!!! See if you can try to post it here one more time....it'd be worth the effort!!!!

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#15 Yosei

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 12:21 PM

So what occured here? Mass Hysteria? A misunderstanding of a deformity? A legend started by older women of these immigrant groups to teach the younger women, becoming too Americanized, a lesson in morality?


I'd say quite possibly a mixture of all three of those things. It doesn't take much for a story to get out of hand. It wouldn't even have to be a major deformity. For instance, I once had a friend whose son was born with pointed tufts of hair on top of his ears, and they jokingly talked about having had a werewolf-baby. Amongst a lot of poor, uneducated folk, not all of them speaking the same language and some possibly half-remembering some sort of old folktales with a moral point (and I'm pretty sure there are stories only a little different going back to the Middle Ages, it's just the specific persistent attachment of it to Hull House that makes me think there may have been some incident in particular)....it's not at all hard to see how that kind of thing could get taken out of context and exaggerated.
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